Requirements to Seek APA CE Hours for your Workshop or Curriculum

Mark Zelig, Ph.D., ABPP:

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Obtaining APA CE Credit Checklist for Administrators

If you would like Alta Psychological Services to sponsor your continuing education program it is important to be mindful of the criteria set forth by the American Psychological Association (APA) has very stringent criteria for allowing a program to provide Continuing Education Credit (CE) for participants.  As an accredited CE Sponsor, we must submit evidence to the APA that each program that Alta Psychological Services sponsored met those criteria.  I have summarized these criteria in the following checklist.  This is a labor-intensive undertaking, and for this reason, there are hourly-fees associated with this service.   The more your organization does to satisfy the below requirements, the fewer hours we are required to expend.

At first glance, the long list of requirements appear daunting.  However, if the proposed educational program is provided by qualified instructors, whose curriculum is sufficiently advanced that it builds on a doctoral education, most of the requirements are satisfied.

To be eligible for American Psychological Association (APA) Continuing Education Credit (CE), the program administrator must be able to answer all of the following questions affirmatively.  For further information on program eligibility you can refer to the American Psychological Association Sponsor Approval System: Standards and Criteria (2009).  References within this document are taken from the Standards and Criteria.

1.    Is the premise accessible to participants with ADA-covered disabilities?

2.    Have you decided if attendance will be required for the entire program or alternatively, will credit be offered on a session-by-session basis? Note: If you elect session-by-session credit, each session must be evaluated separately (p. 16).

3.    Assurance that the program is appropriate for post-doctoral instruction:

a.    Will the proposed curriculum be reviewed by a designated doctoral-level psychologist(s)?

b.    Does the program content build on the foundation of a completed doctoral degree in psychology?

c.    Has the presenter furnished a handout that includes program content and a reference list drawing on resources from either refereed scientific journals, case law, statutes, ethical standards, practice guidelines, or other reputable sources?   Of course, such references should reflect the current state-of-the-science.

4.    Does the program content include appropriate statements about the limitations of proposed techniques or approaches?  Thus, if one is presenting a review of research or advocating for a particular procedure or treatment, they should also cite counter arguments and provide references against their position and acknowledge such during the presentation.  If the program is proposing a particular type of treatment, it is the presenter’s responsibility to also discuss the most common risks associated with the proposed treatment approach.

5.    Can you characterize the presentation into one (or more) of the following categories?  If so, which one(s)?

a.    The proposed content relates to well-established psychological principles, or is based on content that extends current theory, method, or practice.

b.    The proposed material is related to ethical, legal, statutory or regulatory policies, guidelines, and standards that impact psychology” (CE standards, p. 10).

6.    Will the material benefit psychologists and the populations they serve?  Note: this means the program’s content cannot be solely for the benefit of psychologists.  For example, a program entitled, “How to use the internet to build your practice,” would not qualify. This distinction is more fully explained in Obtaining APA CE Credit: Administrator’s Guide, which is available from my office.

7.    Instructor qualifications, disclosures:

a.    Has the presenter provided a current curriculum vita demonstrating their qualifications to teach the proposed curriculum?  Note: the presenter is not required to be a psychologist, but they must provide documentation of their qualifications.

b.    Has the presenter provided a statement indicating (whether or not) the presentation has commercial support, or disclosed any other relationship that might be construed as a conflict of interest?  (Note: Conflicts must be acknowledged, but do not, per se, disqualify the program).

8.    Has the presenter submitted approximately one learning objective for each hour of instruction that satisfy the below criteria?

a.    Do the learning objectives incorporate active verbs that inform the participant of what they can expect to learn?

b.    Can each learning objective be measured on a course critique to determine if the presenter succeeded in teaching the stated objective?

9.    Sensitivity to cultural and individual differences:

a.    Does the proposed material “respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status?” (APA Standard B5).  Note: This is obviously more relevant to some topics than others.

10.    If the subject matter involves standardized tests, proprietary information, or confidentiality of individuals or organizations, has the presenter provided a written statement explaining how he/she will safeguard this information (APA standard B3)?

11.    Have you composed a written course critique that assesses (1) participant satisfaction with the instruction, and (2) the effectiveness of the program in imparting the knowledge promised in the learning objectives?  Related to the previous paragraph, Is a system in place for tabulating the responses provided by the participants as well as their demographic information (as described in Paragraph 11)?

12.    Have you prepared either a sign-in sheet, or have you appointed a monitor that will provide a written record that includes:
a.    Participant’s name,
b.    highest educational degree,
c.    license number, and
d.    professional discipline?

13.    Have you prepared an announcement (or made available on a website) the following information prior to enrollment, which includes all the following information?

a.    The learning objectives of the program.

b.    A description of the target audience and the instructional level of the activity (introductory, intermediate, or advanced)

c.    Schedule;

d.    Cost, including all fees and the refund/cancellation policy;

e.    Instructor credentials, including relevant professional degree and discipline, current professional position, and expertise in program content;

f.    The number of CE credits offered for each activity; [Note: Reference to the abbreviation CEU is not permitted].

g.    A clear indication of any activities within a program that are not offered for CE credit.” (Standard G1).  Note: If you are presenting a conference, it is possible that not all presentations/ presenters will provide instruction that meets criteria for APA CE.

h.    Statement regarding any known commercial support for CE programs or instructors [or] any other relationships that could be reasonably construed as a conflict of interest . . . ” (Criteria G2)

i.    Does your announcement include the following statement: “Alta Psychological Services is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Alta Psychological Services maintains responsibility for this program and its content.”

14.    Do you have a written copy of the grievance policy that will be applied if a participant’s dissatisfaction cannot be resolved on the day of the workshop?

Appendix:  Writing Behavioral Learning Objectives and Assessments (Copied from APA’s Standards and Criteria)

Learning objectives, or learning outcomes, are statements that clearly describe what the learner will know or be able to do as a result of having attended an educational program or activity.

Learning objectives must be observable and measurable.

Learning objectives should (1) focus on the learner, and (2) contain action verbs that describe measurable behaviors.  Verbs to consider when writing learning objectives:

  • list, describe, recite, write
  • compute, discuss, explain, predict
  • apply, demonstrate, prepare, use
  • analyze, design, select, utilize
  • compile, create, plan, revise
  • assess, compare, rate, critique

Verbs to avoid when writing learning objectives:

  • know, understand
  • learn, appreciate
  • become aware of, become familiar with

Example of well-written learning objectives:

This workshop is designed to help you:
1. Summarize basic hypnosis theory and technique;
2. Observe demonstrations of hypnotic technique and phenomena;
3. Recognize differences between acute and chronic pain;
4. Utilize hypnosis in controlling acute pain;
5. Apply post-hypnotic suggestions to chronic pain; and
6. Practice hypnotic technique in dyads.

Objective learning assessments should be written in a manner that determines whether participants learned what you planned to teach them. The evaluation (or learning assessment) should be based on the stated learning objectives of the program.

Example of well-written learning assessment is available on the pdf copy, which you can request by using the contact form.

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